The decision to remove Cosby and Polanski from the membership was made Tuesday, May 1 at a scheduled board meeting.
The move comes a week after Cosby was convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault brought against him by Andrea Constand. Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by as many as 60 women, a few of which testified at the emotional hearing.
Polanski has been on the lam for 40 years, ever since fleeing the country while awaiting sentencing for statutory rape in 1978. The case has undergone a number of bizarre twists over the decades, as the L.A. County District Attorney’s office has tried unsuccessfully to extradite him, and Polanski has tried unsuccessfully to resolve the case from afar.
Polanski’s attorney, Harland Braun, told Variety that the director was not afforded an opportunity to defend himself to the Academy, which he says is at odds with the process outlined Academy’s new code of conduct. However, there is a provision allowing the board to act whether that process is followed or not.
“It sets a very poor example,” Braun said. “It seems to be wrong to just expel someone and make a decision without knowing all the facts.”
The Academy’s code, adopted in January, states that the Membership and Administration Committee may receive complaints and ask for a response from the accused member. The member then has 10 days to provide a written response, after which the committee may make a recommendation on discipline to the full board. The member is also provided 10 days to appeal the board’s decision. The code also includes a provision whereby the board retains the ability to impose discipline without following the new process.
“He accepted responsibility,” Braun said. “He apologized to the woman. She has accepted his apology. It’s a very ignorant thing to do.”
Harvey Weinstein was expelled from the Academy last year after exposés in the New Yorker and New York Times detailed years of sexual harassment allegations against the now-disgraced mogul.
The full AMPAS statement:
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors met on Tuesday night (May 1) and has voted to expel actor Bill Cosby and director Roman Polanski from its membership in accordance with the organization’s Standards of Conduct. The Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity.
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